Double demerits for Easter but Hunter police repeat travel warning

Newcastle police on patrol last week. Picture: Max Mason-Hubers
Newcastle police on patrol last week. Picture: Max Mason-Hubers

Motorists will be questioned as to why they are out and about this Easter long-weekend if police stop them for suspected offences, the northern NSW police chief says.

Double demerit points are in force from midnight on Thursday until 11:59pm on Monday as part of the annual Easter police operation.

While the state's roads already have less traffic than usual because of the NSW government's COVID-19 restrictions on people leaving home except for essential activities, Assistant Commissioner Max Mitchell said on Wednesday it was "concerning" that Hunter police had noticed an increase in speeding in recent weeks.

Assistant Commissioner Mitchell said questions about why people were out of their homes would be part of the process when officers stopped vehicles for suspected offences - the checks would be an added part of the regular traffic-stop process.

He said it would "supplement" the regular process more-so than be a case of police randomly pulling vehicles over to conduct checks.

Assistant Commissioner Mitchell warned people not to travel for the Easter break - not even for a social visit with family.

"It really is only for medical purposes with families," he said.

"I know this is really tough on families ... everyone realises what they're asking communities to adhere to ... make that phone call or connect with social media."

Police have been checking to make sure accommodation providers such as caravan parks and hotels were not breaking the law and that will continue this weekend.

When asked how police were judging whether people were giving genuine reasons for being out and how officers were avoiding a situation where citizens were being erroneously fined, Assistant Commissioner Mitchell said police were not jumping the gun in handing out penalties.

"If there is a breach, on many occasions we will educate and warn the individual and hopefully they'll return home," he said.

"The few breaches that we have handed out are because people are flouting the regulations and showing absolutely no respect to the rest of the community."

It comes after news that three of the 15 fines handed out across the state for breaking coronavirus restrictions on Tuesday were in the Hunter and Lake Macquarie.

Two men - aged 21 and 25 - were each fined $1000 in the afternoon for being at the home of two women.

Police said the Edgeworth property had been the subject of previous reports of illegal social gatherings.

On Tuesday night, Newcastle police fined the passenger of a car they stopped at New Lambton after the 27-year-old could not provide a reasonable excuse for being in public.

Police said the man had been warned twice about breaking the rules in the previous two days.

This story Double demerits for Easter but police repeat travel restriction warning first appeared on Lakes Mail.